Can I Scream?

Have people developed an aversion to headphones recently? I have been noticing more and more people watching streaming content on their phones and tablets at the gym without using headphones. They have the volume cranked up like they are lounging on their couch in their underwear, completely unconcerned about whether or not their noise is bothering anyone else.

Several years ago when my husband and I were in Atlantis, we were walking through the aquarium when an even trashier version of the cast of Jersey Shore came strolling through the halls. They were blasting music from a boom box hoisted on one of the spiky haired guido’s shoulders. I was disgusted – both by their greasiness and their manners. I mean, who does that? It was like walking down a New York City street in the 80s. Now, every time I hear someone’s music or movie emanating from their device, all I can see are the greaseballs slinking through the aquarium. Somehow seemingly normal, albeit rude, middle aged women morph into overly tanned, overly painted meatballs the second those speakers chirp.

There are a few women in my gym who watch television on their devices while pumping away on the elliptical machines. One woman watches what I can only surmise is a tween fantasy show on her tiny iPhone. Every time a new scene starts, twinkly music bursts out of the speaker. It’s like Tinkerbell is flying out of her phone every 5 minutes. She is an Asian woman and every time her little bells start chiming I want to tell her that she is not helping to disprove any of the stereotypes regarding Asian women and their love of all things little girl-like. At least I can’t hear any of the actual dialog from whatever she is watching, just lots of giggling and bells.

A new woman walked into my gym the other day and proceeded to set up her over sized tablet in front of her. She spent the next hour blaring a cop show while everyone within twenty yards of her cleared out of the gym. It took every ounce of self-discipline I have – which is not much – to not sidle up next to her and crank up some Hatebreed on my iPod. Luckily I was reading a book by the Dalai Lama so I was extra zen.

I don’t know if it is our increasing selfishness, sense of entitlement, or ability to be in the middle of a crowd without ever actually interacting with other people, but it’s obnoxious. I thought it was bad enough when I had to listen to people talking on their phones in line at Target, now I have to be privy to their Netflix playlist.

 

 

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Everyone’s a Critic

My daughter loves cooking. She also loves eating and has a pretty refined palate for a child. Tonight, she took one bite of the fish my husband had prepared for dinner and went directly to the refrigerator. She pulled out a jar of capers and half a lemon that had been sitting on the counter and returned to the table to top off her fish. I have to say I loved watching this, mostly because my husband has added extra spice, toppings or ingredients to pretty much every dinner I have ever cooked. I am a three ingredient kind of cook whereas he is a believer in layers of flavor. Apparently his cod didn’t have quite enough layers for our little lass though. As I was smirking at her going to town on her plate like Cat Cora she turned to me and said “What? You know I have to have capers on my fish!” Precocious does not even begin to explain this child some days.

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Sinner or Saint?

My daughter had her first communion last week. But first, she had to complete her first reconciliation. She had been talking about this event all year and, of course, I had a few questions for her about the process. Namely, when she needed to confess and what atrocities she had to confess.

I recall going to confession as a child and debating about what to tell the priest and what to keep to myself. It wasn’t necessarily that I was such a bad kid at the age of eight that I thought my sins were unforgivable, I just didn’t want to admit I was wrong about anything. Telling the school priest that I had been mean to my mom or lied to a friend seemed like a not so smart thing to do. I was always a skeptical child, so I was pretty sure the priest was going to blab all of my dirt to my teachers. I pictured them sitting around the lunch table gossiping about what the kids said to their moms and each other. I didn’t want anyone to have any dirt they could hold over my head.

A month ago when my mini-me and I were talking about confession she asked what kind of things I had talked to the priest about when I was her age. I told her it was mostly me being sassy with my mom or not being as nice as I could be to friends. “What do you do if you don’t have anything to confess?”¬† she asked with a straight face. I told her I could give her a list if she needed one. She sounded just like my Dad who jokes that he has nothing to repent for. Unfortunately, she wasn’t joking. In her mind it was a totally valid question.

The day before her first communion was spent preparing for the big day. The kids practiced the readings, found their places in the chapel where they would sit with their families and tasted the wine. I had learned earlier that they give all of the kids a sip of the wine the day before so nobody spits it out on their dress at the main event. My daughter had a rather lengthy discussion with a saleswoman at the shoe store about this as we picked out a pair of white heels. She talked animatedly about how disrespectful it would be to God to have some kid spit out the blood of his son all over the floor. She had already talked to me repeatedly about the church wine. She was scared to drink it because she thought it would taste bad. I wouldn’t go so far as to say she was obsessed, but the wine was on her mind much more than her weekly spelling words or current lego project. I was happy to know it would be put to bed after her retreat.

When she came home from school that day she had two things to share. The first was that she did make a confession and it was that she made me crazy in the morning (which is true). She was not given penance with the rosary, but was instead told to cut it out. She of course shared this information with her grandparents, but did not want to divulge the conversation to me. Smart kid. The second piece of information she shared with her dad (again, not with me). She walked in and promptly told him “Dad, I loved the wine. It tasted so good!” He immediately texted me to let me know that fear was coursing through his veins. Well, that seems about right – my kid worried about the wine for a month and we will now worry about it for the next twenty or more years.

 

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In the Thick of It

A friend of mine recently told a story about being the only mom participating in an activity while other moms sat back watching. She was on vacation, in the ocean taking a surf lesson with her husband and kids. Other moms sat on the beach taking photos and watching while their families had an adventure. The women  documented the event as their families experienced it.

Her daughter noticed the anomaly and pointed it out. The tween asked why her mom was not doing what the other moms were doing (or not doing). In this story, the mom explained that she was in the water because she had recently gotten into better shape and was finally comfortable in the wet suit, whereas six months prior she would have probably made an excuse to sit on the beach instead of getting in the water. She shared with her daughter that she was happy to be in a mindset where she would rather be participating in the adventure.

I wondered how many other moms were sitting on the sidelines for the same reason and how many were watching from a distance simply because “that’s what the moms do.” Most of my adventures as a kid were led by my dad. Sometimes my mom participated, and sometimes not. Her participation seemed to depend on the level of danger involved. I think she shied away from some of our adventures after she mistakenly engaged the clutch instead of the brake on my dad’s motorcycle and almost ran me over. For the short period of time I played sports as a child, the dads coached and the moms watched. It seemed like anything physical was a “dad” activity and mom was left with arts and crafts or trips to the mall.

I have never been one to follow the crowd. I don’t sit on the sidelines and watch because “that’s what the moms do” and I have never bought the idea that different activities are better suited for boys than girls. I grew up on a motorcycle and skateboard. I am the mom who doesn’t mind getting dirty and certainly doesn’t mind making an ass out of herself. If it’s fun, I will do it. I am often a mom among dads and that’s just fine. There should be more of us if you ask me.

This story was on my mind when my family headed off to Florida for vacation a few weeks ago. Lo and behold, I saw moms all over the theme parks sitting and watching as their families rode the rides. It was most noticeable at the water park. Maybe the moms didn’t want to get their hair wet, or maybe they were uncomfortable climbing up the stairs in their bathing suits. Maybe they just wanted to relax and get a tan. I have no idea why these moms were watching instead of participating. All I know is I am not one of those moms.

We spent less than a week in Florida and I felt like I needed a vacation to recover when we got home. We were busy while we were there and I was often the one running up first to the rides. I have a handful of photos from vacation, but not nearly as many as I would like. But I will trade the documents of the memories for experiencing the memories any day!

 

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Old Guys Dig Me

I love our new gym. It’s full of old guys and soccer moms. Last week, one of the old guys walked up to me while I was about an hour into my ride on the elliptical. He stopped next to the machine with a big smile and said “I see you here a lot. I come here a lot too, so I like to meet the people I see every day. My name is Jack.” I introduced myself but he was a little hard of hearing and kept repeating my name back to me as different words like gent, jan and gin. I finally spelled it for him J-E-N to which he replied “oh, short for Janet!” When I told him it was short for Jennifer he looked at me like I was nuts. I just smiled and kept jogging.

Before walking away he said “Oh, and I have dementia, so we will probably meet over and over again since I might not remember this conversation.” I told him I looked forward to it with a smile. You have to love a guy who has a sense of humor about his condition. It reminded me of something my Dad would say.

After a week of being away, I visited the gym yesterday and who did I run into – my best bud Jack. I was thinking about what new characters I could introduce myself as when he walked up and said “let me see if I can remember…. Jan, right?” I replied “Close, Jen” using my best midwest flat E. He leaned in a little closer and said “Jan, that’s what I said!” I guess I should have expected it after it being the name that appeared on my Starbucks cups all week on vacation. Maybe it’s time to head to Staples for some name tags. That or the Secretary of State to fill out the paperwork to change my name to Janet.

*I wrote this piece while listening to my daughter watch TV after being away from YouTube for a whole week!

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